Anthony Meindl is the founder of AMAW and an international acting coach. Tony’s focus is on teaching actors
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Acting Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Steal to Build Their Brand
The following is an edited transcript of this podcast. Since how we talk and how write is often very different, this transcript may contain uses of the English language (including grammar) that are not 100% correct. We are counting on your understanding in advance.
Karen Leland Branding Expert: Tony, thank you so much for joining me today to talk about acting lessons every entrepreneur should steal to build their brand. I am so thrilled that you could take the time to be with us.
I’m excited to be here.
I want to just let our guests know that you are somebody that I so admire. I met you because I’ve done a lot of amateur acting over the years, and a friend of mine, who’s a professional actress, was doing a workshop with you in New York that you were teaching, Chris. She had said, “You should come to this weekend workshop with Tony.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll try it.” I just felt so incredible with what you were doing because what you were doing was teaching actors how to be really authentic and how to be themselves, and I think a lot of acting training is about being something else and stepping into another role. You were teaching a kind of authenticity that I found parallel to the branding work I do with executives and CEOs, where it’s really not about making up some “brand” but it’s about being yourself. I just wanted to talk to you a little bit about how you think that idea could be applied to entrepreneurs.
I think you answered it there because I think we’re living in an age now where people have been talking about this forever. Constantly, the message is, “Be yourself. You just have to be yourself.” I think, weirdly enough, it seems to also be one of the most difficult things to be because we have a lot of judgments about who we are. We have shame based in our own personal experiences. We often grow up with stories in our heads or narratives that tells us we’re not enough. We live in a culture that I think promotes the idea that if we can become someone else or if we can adapt a role, then we’re going to make it.
I think ultimately the people who break through or brands that are successful, whether it’s selling shoes or it’s an actual personality or music or actors, whatever it is, I think the common theme that I have discovered is that the person who is doing the creating, it’s authentically an extension of themselves. That’s what I teach. I think the work has reached a lot of other people who aren’t actors. My work has dovetailed into the spiritual community. I get emails from moms, stay-at-home moms in the Midwest, who are like, “Oh!” How to more authentically show up in your own life. I think that’s the key.
I think what you said is really important for entrepreneurs, CEOs, and C-suite executives in terms of their personal brand and how they put their personal brand out in the world, which isn’t about some face that you put on. It’s about that it’s an authentic extension of yourself.
Also, I think what I’ve learned is also, yes, we buy products, but I have found that the product becomes something that we’re interested in because of our own connection to it. I think that connections are built when people relate to us at a personal level. We’ve all sat in seminars or workshops or whatever where executives just kind of talk about their product or statistics or business or whatever it is, their brand or whatever it is, but there’s no real heart-felt connection to what it is that they’re saying.
Then a different speaker gets up and makes the room alive because—again, whether it’s shoes or selling notebook paper—you can get anybody excited about anything if it’s infused with your own connection to it. I’ve learned that as a businessman myself. Even though I’m teaching actors, what I’ve learned is it doesn’t really matter if I’m selling acting to someone or I’m selling them clothing. It’s all the same at the end of the day. Somebody taught me that, a guy who really works with search engine optimization. He was basically saying, “The brand is you. It doesn’t really matter what you’re selling. Ultimately, you’re selling yourself.” That’s always stuck with me.
That doesn’t mean it’s a hard sell. I’m not trying to hard sell anyone. I think passion really speaks volumes. If you really believe in what it is that you’re talking about, you’re going to enroll other people in a conversation about what it is that you’re talking about. You’ve worked with me. If I were just to talk to you about my program and the way that I work with people, I don’t ever feel like I have to hard sell it. I feel like I get so enthusiastic about what it is that we’re doing that people are like, “Oh my gosh; I have to check it out.” People who are working on their own brands or have their own company, that’s how they have to think in terms of connecting with their audience.
I completely agree with what you’re saying. I notice that when I work with CEOs, often what they will say to me is, “I don’t want to brag.” It’s really interesting. I’ll be working with them on putting their brand out, and they’re worried about, “I don’t want to brag. I don’t want to seem like I’m really promoting myself.” I find that interesting, because actors love to brag about themselves. They don’t have that issue.
Where is that line in your mind between this bragadocious, “Aren’t I great?” and “This is what I’ve done, and this is who I am,” versus that enthusiastic sharing? Because there is a line. We’ve all seen that line surpassed. Where do you see that line being?
Are you ready for a mic drop? Because this is just what came into my mind. Because I have found that when somebody speaks passionately about whatever it is that they believe in, I think that the whole ego part of ourselves steps aside and that we become a channel for something else. When I am talking about acting, let’s say, obviously there’s always going to be ego. We’re living in an egoic body. There’s always going to be that part of who we are.
However, I find that when I am in service, meaning, I really feel like the information that I have to share to people can change and better someone’s life, if I am really being in service and on purpose, then it doesn’t come from a place of ego. It really comes from a place of, “Somebody or something else is doing the work for me.”
Look at Steve Jobs as a great example of it. I can’t speak to his personal life and the biographies about him. I do know when it came to creating all the things that he came up with and the design aesthetic of what he wanted Apple products to be, I think he was keenly aware of that thing that we all are a part of. It’s getting out of our own way and letting something some powerful . . .
Yeah, be expressed through us.
I think it’s so profound what you said. I so agree with that, which is if you’re speaking about what you’re doing, and what you’re being driven by is knowing that you have a deep contribution to make to other people, I think it’s really different than when you’re speaking about promoting how great you are. I think that’s the fundamental difference. Because you can take two people, and they’re saying the exact same thing, but if one knows that they’re doing it to be of service and the other is doing it to be of service to themselves versus someone else, I think it comes off completely differently.
Yeah. I think you can ferret those people out in a way. I think most people have a good bullshit detector. I think you really don’t respond to that energetic the same way that it’s infused by someone who . . .
Is committed to making a difference and committed to contributing. Yeah.
At one level, my hope for humanity is, I think most people are oriented that way. I think that’s our nature. I think it’s in our DNA to want to create and share things that can make all of us more purposeful. We lose our track sometimes, and we get off our path, and we’re seduced sometimes by other aspects of business. I think that can also be a really interesting insight about, maybe for your listeners or your readers too, maybe they’ve lost connection with what it is that they really wanted to do to begin with when they started their business. That to me is also a challenge. I’ve been doing it for 20 years.
How do you always make sure you’re in alignment with the real intention that you had created for yourself? You know what I mean? I think that’s really important.
I do. I think sometimes that intention changes. I think just as everything else of business is organic and it grows, I think your purpose can shift.
Yeah. Also, whether it’s working with a coach like yourself or doing work on oneself, I think you have to have awareness about that. Also, look, we’re living in a world now too where I think in business, you have to keep adapting. No matter what one’s brand is or what one is selling, it’s changing. You have to constantly, I think, keep evolving. I think that comes from awareness.
It’s interesting because whenever I talk to people about branding, especially personal branding, what I’ll say is, “Your brand isn’t one thing. It’s not just this elevator speech. That’s not a personal brand.” That’s one piece of it but it’s really a lot more aspects of that. You have to understand and be self-aware of all those different aspects of your personal brand, because sometimes what you may be expressing is one part of the brand, another time it might be another one.
My analogy I always use, or my metaphor, is when you go to the eye doctor and he puts that big, heavy, thick thing of glasses on you, and he keeps switching the lenses, and he or she will go, “Does it make it clear or fuzzy, clear or fuzzy?”
Clear or fuzzy? Yeah.
It’s like, a true personal brand has at least 7 or 8 of those lenses, not just one. I think that’s part of what you’re saying, that the depth of who we are and the authenticity of who we are isn’t just this one-dimensional thing that we express the same way all the time. It shifts over time. It changes over time. There’re different layers or different lenses to it.
I don’t really know what more I can add about that. I think you’re right on. Who I was in my 20s is not who I am now. Again, I think it’s all awareness based. If you’re willing to continue to work on yourself and say yes to how things are evolving, I think it can be a really surprising, wonderful journey where you wake up one day and you’re like, “Whoa, this is not what I . . .”
How did I get here?
Yeah. You know what I mean? That’s really exciting.
I do. I want to go back to one thing you said about when you’re focused on really contributing. I saw an interview on TV. Charlie Rose interviewed the producer of Hamilton, the musical. He also interviewed Lin . . . What’s his last name? The guy who wrote it?
Yeah, Lin-Manuel Miranda. I saw Lin-Manuel do that part on Broadway, and he’s fabulous, a really interesting guy. The producer said a fascinating thing, because Charlie Rose was asking about how you cast for a musical like that. The producer said, “We look for people, Lin and I look for people who can do the job. Of course you need someone who can sing the part, who can act the part, who’s right for the part.”
He said, “But I’ll have to tell you,” he said, “We also look for somebody that . . . We’re going to be with that person in the theater, doing the show two and a half hours a night.” He goes, “But we look for somebody the other eight hours we can be with, who we want to be with, who we want to hang out with.” He said, “We look for people who, in between the shows, are people who we really resonate with.” Charlie Rose said, “How do you know who those people are?” He said, “It’s gotten to the point where I can tell as soon as they walk into the room.” I thought that was fascinating.
That is definitely a principle in my line of work, where auditions really are made within the first 30 seconds. A lot of that has to do with whether your type is right, whether you walk in the room and you look like your headshot and you’re a match physically to what it is that they think they’re looking for. But also, yeah, one’s essence and one’s energy, which, you can’t change yourself to be all things for all people. That’s not what I’m saying. All you can do is just keep showing up as yourself and eventually, I do really believe that that authentic . . . It’s actually called presence.
Presence is really what we’re talking about here, and there’s a lot of brain science that really supports it. Presence is not this airy fairy, ephemeral thing. It is really showing up, no matter what it is, with another person or giving a talk or being on the job. You’re really fully there. I think we’re so driven by distraction nowadays that we don’t really realize that it has a splintering effect. We used to call ourselves multitaskers, but now, not only are we multitasking, we’re also . . . I don’t even know what the word would be, because we have so many devices that we are also being disconnected with.
I call it that we’re pathologically distracted.
Yeah. It is true. I think we’re so connected, but we really lack connection.
I do, I know exactly what you mean.
We keep seeking it through the device. I think that authentically, people who show up with presence are people who are just there. They’re just there. I don’t need a scientist to tell me this, because I work with human beings. My social science is always right there in the room. I work with some really successful, well-known actors, of course, but also social media stars. These people are wanting to parlay that into acting careers. They have millions and millions and millions of followers on whatever platform it is, whether it’s Instagram, Vine, YouTube, or whatever.
I have found that they themselves, this young generation, they have a very difficult time connecting and feeling. That’s because they were raised, from a very early age, to interface with technology. Their connection, which is really a form of disconnect, comes through a mobile device. Then when it comes to really, actually having to be with someone, they’re like, “This does not compute.”
Not so skilled.
Yeah. It’s a work in progress I have with them.
Yeah. It’s interesting because there’s this picture that I show in my presentations on branding that I do. It’s a real picture that I took. I was standing in the train station in DC on my way to catch a train back to New York. There was a guy standing in front of me, a young guy, probably in his early 20s. He was standing in front of me in a business suit at Union Station. He had two PDAs: one in the right hand, one in the left. He was simultaneously texting and looking at both of them at the same time. I said, “Can I take a picture of you? If I don’t take a picture of your face, can I just have a picture of what you’re doing?” he said, “Sure, no problem.” I always say to people, “The title of this slide is, ‘This Is What We’re up Against,’” because it is.
I think one of the only things that can break through that, whether you’re a CEO, an executive, a small business owner, or an actor, I think one of the only things that really can break through that is true presence. Because I think presence kinda grabs people by the collar and makes them pay attention, because when there is that sense of presence—and I do a lot of work with executives on executive presence—it isn’t about showing up some “way.” It’s about showing up and being real and actually being present, which, as simple as that sounds, I think is probably one of the hardest things to do.
I’m not sure we’re being taught how to do it. There’s no school of presence. Although it’s part of our hardwiring, it is the moment. I think oftentimes, our left brain is so consumed with mind chatter about, “Is this correct?” and, “How do I look?” and, “What is their perception?” and, “What are they thinking of me?” and, “Am I saying this correctly?” and, “What happens if I make a mistake?” and, “Am I getting my point across?” We’re so filled with the things that we think other people are thinking, and they’re not thinking it all, really.
They’re too worried about themselves to be thinking that about you and me.
Everybody’s thinking about themselves. It does erode our ability to just be. To me, presence comes from being and just the ability to be with people, which, that’s a skill that you develop by being with people more and more.
I have to say, people don’t like to put it out there because they’re afraid of being rejected. I think for businesspeople, it’s just like going to an audition. When businesspeople pitch a potential client, they don’t like being rejected any more than an actor does. How do you think businesspeople can get over that feeling? I think to me, again, there’s a parallel.
When you talk to actors about auditioning and how they get over that in auditioning, how can you apply that to business people when they’re trying to get over that same feeling in selling or pitching or presenting?
I think it’s the same across the board; ultimately people and products get rejected, but I think it’s just never personal. I think that’s the most important thing, that you essentially are not the thing that you’re selling or talking about. It sounds almost like I’m contradicting myself, because at one level, all you have is yourself and what you bring to what it is that you’re talking about, whether it’s a form of artistry or a shoe you designed or whatever that is.
At another level, I think the people that respond to you, I always feel like either people are going to get you are they’re not. If they’re not getting me, that really doesn’t have anything to do with me. That has to do with a number of variables that I have no control over. That’s my thought about that, Karen. Henry Ford talks a lot about that. Inventors talk a lot about people who, my god, you just keep going to bat and then eventually you break through. I don’t think anybody who is successful, like Steve Jobs—again, I’m using him—they keep moving on in the face of rejection. You start to learn that, “Oh, this has nothing to do with me.” It’s just not personal.
I think that’s a really important part of it. I think the other part of it is . . . You and I know each other a little bit, and you’ve worked with me a little bit as an actor. I think one of the things that I always get really stumped by is that, it’s what you said about you show up a certain way because you bring a certain essence with you. I know a lot of people, I know a lot of business people, a lot of actors, a lot of CEOs, a lot of entrepreneurs, they get concerned about their essence and that their essence is showing up a way that they don’t want to be. They want to be some essence that they’re not.
I know there are times in acting where I’ve gone, “Why am I always getting cast as either the sexy smoker or the funny sidekick?” It’s almost like in business, where I think people have this typecasting as well. I always find myself wondering, “Is it really that there’s a typecasting, or is it really that we’re a certain essence, and we just have to own the essence that we are?”
That’s interesting. I think it’s a little bit of both. Certainly, we can’t ever be anybody but ourselves, so I think the journey that we’re on in life is to just more fully be, authentically be, who we are. The thing that comes to my mind is, I think in corporate America, although I think that’s starting to change, the CEO who they feel like they have to be at work is oftentimes maybe not the same person as the husband or wife or mom or dad at home on the weekends.
At home. Absolutely.
I think the thing that needs to start changing, and now more corporations are bringing in meditation teachers or they have more access to different modalities to get people to be just more human, I think is the goal. How do we bring that essence of who we are into the workplace and understand that that is also the ground of good work? We don’t have to be assholes and machines in order to be successful. It’s actually so weird to me because actually it’s counterintuitive. I get it; people are dealing with a lot of stress, etc. But why would one need to be such an ass? I can’t think of a better word.
Yeah. Why would someone need to be so harsh, disrespectful, unkind? Yeah.
It’s at cross purposes with what it is that you’re really wanting to get, which is more productivity from your employees and a more joyous workplace, which leads to greater creativity, which leads to greater collaboration and people who have other great ideas that help the product and help the business. It’s so interesting how in many ways, a lot of businesses from an old mindset structure are built from that hierarchal fear-based way of working.
I think that’s changing. I think it’s changing in part because of what you’ve been talking about, which is this idea of the value of people’s presence is really starting to become more and more of an idea in business.
I think it’s becoming more fluid, too, isn’t it? Because businesses are being created from home; people work on the road because of technology now. It’s just more fluid. The whole idea of, “My persona as this 9-to-5 person and then I’m different out of work,” that’s changing.
That compartmentalization has been broken down by technology.
Yeah, that’s totally it. I’m not advocating that people bring in all their baggage and craziness to work. That’s not what I’m talking about. I feel very grateful that my school is all over the world and our office, let’s say, and the people that I work with, it’s a very shared human experience. That’s what makes it just really cool. We can still do our work, but we’re able to share ourselves at a very human level. That makes it very gratifying. You know?
Everybody at the end of the day has dreams and hopes and aspirations and imaginations.
And fears. I think sometimes we’re just reduced to concepts in the workplace. I think that that can be so counterproductive.
I think what you’re saying is so important. I don’t know if you have this with actors, I’d be curious to know if you think it’s one of those acting lessons that every entrepreneur should steal. Oftentimes, again, I will deal with business people, and we’ll talk about their personal brand, and they will actually not be sure what their personal brand is or how to express it. I’ll ask them, “What do you think your brand is?” They’ll go, “I really don’t know.” Do you find that that happens with actors? When it does, how do you help people get clear on what that essence or their brand is as an actor?
To me the obvious answer is the thing that they’re avoiding about themselves is the selling point of who they are. I find life is about us avoiding who it is that we essentially are, and then maybe as we continue to have awareness and consciousness, we have full-circle moments and we start to come back and accept ourselves. The parts that we reject are ultimately fundamentally the most important and creative aspects of who we are. That’s at a spiritual level, I would say that.
I think, to make it more in terms of a brand, I also think it’s really great to have other people assist you in this. For a lot of actors who are denying a part of themselves or can’t see it, if they’re in a room with other people, we’ll have them get up, and then ironically, everybody in the room will see the same thing. You know what I mean?
I know exactly what you mean.
The thing that everybody else sees is the thing generally we don’t want to see in ourselves. It’s so easy because . . .
It’s so easy, it’s hard.
Yeah. Exactly. We don’t want to look in the mirror and see that, but other people can see it in us. That’s the similarity to me.
I’ve been in your classes so I’ve seen that happen. I’ve seen that happen in corporations when I’ve worked with people or I’ve worked with teams or executives. Just to be devil’s advocate for a minute, there’s also ways that we are that get shaped by, not to get too psychological about it, but that get shaped by our childhood, how we grew up. They’re more like a false self, like a structure of a self that’s false. There’s another self that’s much more real.
I know that people sometimes will see the false self and not the real self. How do you help actors and how do you help people separate that? I think we could take a group of business people, and we could put them in a room, and you could do what you do with actors. Honestly, Tony, I don’t think it would be any different, nor any less valuable.
No, it’s no different at all. I think we’ve already touched on it. I think the idea of the “business world” is, I think people view it as some sort of separate creature, animal, or machine in which people aren’t really allowed to authentically be who they are. That fundamentally gets in the way of doing business. I think that’s the major disconnect. I think that’s, again, it’s changing.
Listen, every single person on the planet is a spiritual being having a human experience. We’re here for whatever time we have, all figuring it out. Nobody has it fully figured out. If somebody had it figured out, we’d have all signed up for it. Nobody has it figured out. Even the CEOs of these companies are just vamping. The President of the US, everybody at one level, is vamping. That’s also how we gain understanding. It’s trial and error. You risk, you attempt things, you fail. That’s the human variability factor. I don’t understand why that’s discounted in some business. I think that, to me, is the big disconnect.
Again, just to draw a parallel to acting, since in the teaching that you do, I’ve heard you talk a lot about how you make strong choices. When you go to audition or when you go to do the role, you make strong choices. If those choices don’t work, you can correct them. I think the problem in business is if you make the strong choice and it fails, there can be an economic cost, right?
That economic cost, that’s where I think there starts to be an impact. However, in terms of how you’re presenting yourself for who you’re being, you can take a chance of showing people who you really are. As you said earlier, if it fails or they don’t like you, well, then it’s just they didn’t like you and you move on.
Karen, I also think surely there is a risk in anything failing anyway.
If we’re putting a monetary end result to what would happen if we risked and failed, it may seem even more, we’re less likely to take the risk. But again, I don’t think businesses that are really successful became successful by not constantly taking risks. That also means they’ve also really failed along the way.
I think there is no creativity and there is no success without the ebbing and flowing of things expanding and then contracting, and then growing and then slowly devolving. That’s life. Everything is but a metaphor or an extension of life itself. All these processes that are governing our own experience and our existence, why would we think that they don’t occur in art, in business, in relationships? It’s all the same.
It’s all the same.
Yeah. It’s between you and you.
Exactly. That again brings me back to the earlier point I was asking about, which is, and I see this again a lot with executives, where they have this self that they’ve developed or this brand that they’ve developed, that it seems like it’s their essence, but there is really something underneath it. How do you get to what’s underneath it so that you’re not just stuck with what seems to be the brand or the essence on the surface?
I always think when people share honestly the things that they have gone through or the things that they’re up against, that’s when one’s pure essence is revealed. I think, again, people that are hugely successful also do that. They share their trials, challenges, and fears and how they’ve overcome them. That’s also the teaching tool. Those are the people we’re inspired by.
I think that human beings are so good at categorizing and compartmentalizing. We think all success must equal good and all failures must equal bad. Nothing is a vacuum of that absoluteness. I have to have challenges and struggles. The struggle is also so interesting to me. Without the struggle, where is the fight for life? I don’t think that you can take one part out just for something else. That’s my thought about that.
Thank you. That’s actually really interesting. So I know we were talking about you as a teacher and how you teach actors, but as an entrepreneur, you’ve been very successful. You’re really killing it as an entrepreneur. Can you just talk a little bit about your school and what it’s called and what it does? Just a little bit about what you’re doing right now as an entrepreneur in your business.
It’s called Anthony Meindl’s Actor’s Workshop. I’m based in LA. I started with six students. Now we have maybe one of the biggest, if not the biggest, scene study studios in LA. We also have schools in New York, London, Vancouver, and Sydney. I think we’re soon going to open one in Toronto.
I just travel all over the world and lecture on a lot of these things that we’re talking about. I find that it’s all the same. I think at one level, everybody should take an acting class because you learn how to be more who you are. Which is, I think, really an amazing experience for people, to open up and realize that they’re not alone, that their challenges aren’t just specific to them, that everybody’s going through the same stuff and nobody really fully knows what they’re doing, which I think can be really freeing. That’s what I’m about. It’s exciting.
I don’t feel like there’s really been a new shift of acting training since the 1940s and ’50s. Most acting training has come out of traditionally taught methodologies. What I have had the great good fortune of exploring is really thinking about creating in new ways based on our awareness of life principles now.
You’ve also written a couple of books. Can you just talk a little bit about the books?
Yeah. My first book is called At Left Brain Turn Right. None of them are really acting books; it’s for all creatives. Again, the title says it all: how to get out of your left brain, how to get out of that side and live more fully present in the creative part. Not that the left brain is bad. They’re constantly interfacing with one another and communicating, and we need them both. We’re living in a world that is all left brain. We have to keep staying in the right hemisphere domain. So that’s At Left Brain Turn Right.
My second book is called Alphabet Soup for Grown-Ups. It’s a really fun little book that, it’s an abecedarian book. Basically every chapter is a letter of the alphabet. It’s sort of these principles that we’re talking about in very short chapters. I have a new book out called Book the Effing Job. Again, it’s the most to specific to acting I guess I’ve ever written, but many, many people have Instagrammed me or Twittered me and said, “Wow, this is not just an acting book.” Those are my three books.
Fabulous. It’s interesting. Because I was interviewing a guy on a podcast named David Nihill, and he’s got a book called FunnyBizz, or Do You Talk Funny? is the name of the book, and his company is FunnyBizz. He was telling me that he read a study that a huge percentage, and I don’t want to misquote it, so I won’t say the percentage, but a very large percentage of people who have won the Nobel Prize have some kind of performance in their background. Not necessarily professionally but even as just amateurs. Isn’t that fascinating?
Yeah, that’s really, really great.
We were talking about what you learn performing and that there’re things you learn performing. Like when you said everyone should take an acting class, I think everyone should take an acting class because what you learn . . . and I think everyone should, by the way, also have to do a play. Because I was talking about this with a friend of mine who’s in a play right now, because we were talking about how when you do a play, you learn about teamwork and cooperation and how other people depend on you. There’s a lot you learn when you do a play that are really valuable skills for business and for life.
Yeah. And listening. Listening, to me, is one of the biggest—that’s the skill, for sure. I think it just taps into a whole aspect of play. The play is the thing.
The play is the thing. Who said that? Someone very famous.
Tom Stoppard has a play called The Play Is the Thing.
I think Shakespeare originally said it. I think Tom Stoppard borrowed it from Shakespeare.
The listening thing is interesting. I want to talk about the listening thing a little bit, because as you know, I’ve been in your class, and you talk about listening. Honestly, I listen for a living. I swear to God, as an actor, I find that the freaking hardest thing to do. It is so hard to listen. I’m not sure why.
I think partly because our minds are constantly on full blast and are always wanting to jump in and guide a conversation or make a statement. Out in the world, sometimes we try to drive it by showing how clever or smart or sexy we are. There’s that element of it. I think deep listening is also really uncomfortable for people because we fill that space with, again, all that chatter and noise. Nobody wants to admit that the stuff that’s going on in our brain makes humanity very, very neurotic. I don’t think that that’s our real state. Our real state is silence, is nothingness, really.
I think the amazing thing about listening is it’s the ground of our being. All existence itself is simply being. It’s this reciprocal dance we’re having with life itself. We react to life, but we don’t really think about it in terms of, “What are we reacting to?” We’re reacting to something through listening, really. We’re receiving information, and then that information elicits a response. Everything is first created from that foundation of listening, or being is really it. Listening comes from being. It’s just really the most powerful place to be.
I think what you just said; the problem is there’s that gap. There’s that moment where you listen, and then there’s that gap in between where you’re listening and what your response is. In there is this, even though it can be a millisecond, it’s this gigantic, enormous void of emptiness. You have to develop a tolerance for that void of emptiness, because you really won’t know what your response is until you’re done listening, and then it shows up.
I think that discomfort, what you were talking about, I think that discomfort is what has actors, CEOs, business people, entrepreneurs, whomever, anyone, it has people be very pat and planned in what they’re going to say and that is an acting lessons every entrepreneur should steal.
It’s the fear of the unknown, isn’t it? You’re living in those unknown spaces. That’s also where the potential is. When you hear somebody do such a rehearsed speech with no—I don’t know—there’s no margin for error because everything is rehearsed down to the last inch; it lacks any sense of life. Life is drained from it. Life itself is this spontaneous dance of the moment.
Again, I’m not saying we have to get off script or go rogue. But I do think we have to learn how to live more in the unpredictability. It’s all unpredictable anyway. That’s the great “aha!” Nobody is in control. None of us are in control. We think we are because we drive nice cars, have a nice house, we’re making millions of dollars, or we’re the CEO of our own company. You are not in control. We just aren’t in control. That can be really terrifying for people at first, but then it can be really . . .
Freeing. It could be really freeing also.
A life-changing moment where they really get free realizing, “I don’t control any of it.” A hundred years from now, nobody who is on the planet right now will be here. It’s going to be a whole new generation of human beings.
Amazing to think about it that way.
That’s how impermanent we are.
Yeah. Tony, thank you so much. I know how busy you are, traveling around the world. I really have enjoyed speaking to you, and I appreciate your being here to talk about acting lessons every entrepreneur should steal to build their brand. Thank you again.
- Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop
- At Left Brain Turn Right
- Alphabet Soup for Grown Ups
- Book the Effing Job
About Anthony Meindl
Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer, producer, director and actor whose first feature screenplay, THE WONDER GIRLS, was the Grand Prize Winning Feature Screenplay in the Slamdance Film Festival Screenplay Competition in 2007. Prior to this accomplishment, Meindl was responsible for the production of an array of award-winning projects. His background in acting, training, and performance has afforded him the opportunity to create what has become a thriving artist community in Los Angeles. THE WONDER GIRLS was also a semifinalist in the Vail Film Festival Screenplay Competition, and was listed in the top 10% of all screenplays entered in the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship in 2007. The film is slated for production this fall.
Meindl recently produced and directed a short film based on the award-winning English play, TOP GIRLS, and also produced, wrote, and directed his second 35-mm short film, READY? OK!, which was chosen as a Top-20 Finalist in the Planet Out Short Film Awards in conjunction with the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival. The film was also a finalist for the “Best of the Fest” for the Indianapolis Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and has played at a dozen International film festivals including the Provincetown International Film Festival and the Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival. The film was sold to MTV’s LOGO Network as part of their “Click List: Best in Short Film Series” and is on DVD as part of the series FIRST OUT 3.
Meindl wrote/directed/produced a new TV pilot called BIRDS OF A FEATHER with actors at the studio. It has been nominated as “BEST PILOT” at the 2010 Banff World Television Festival.
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Karen Leland is President of Sterling Marketing Group, a branding and marketing strategy and implementation firm. She works with individuals, businesses and teams to enhance their business and personal brands. Her clients include LinkedIn, American Express, Apple, Marriott Hotels and others. Her ninth book, The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand, (Entrepreneur Press, 2016) is available online at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and in bookstores now.